Hypoxia effects on cell volume and ion uptake of cerebral microvascular endothelial cells

Julien Brillault, Tina I. Lam, Jennifer M. Rutkowsky, Shahin Foroutan, Martha E O'Donnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Increased transport of Na across an intact blood-brain barrier (BBB) contributes to cerebral edema formation in ischemic stroke. Our previous studies have shown that ischemic factors stimulate activity of a luminal BBB Na-K-Cl cotransporter, and we have hypothesized that during ischemia, the cotransporter together with the abluminal Na/K pump mediates increased transport of Na from blood into the brain. However, it is possible that elevated Na-K-Cl cotransporter activity could also cause cell swelling if it outpaces ion efflux pathways. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effects of hypoxia on intracellular volume of BBB cells. Cerebral microvascular endothelial cell (CMEC) monolayers were exposed to varying levels of hypoxia for 1 to 5 h in an O2-controlled glove box, and cell volume was assessed using 3-O-methyl-D-[3H]glucose and [14C]sucrose as markers of total and extracellular water space, respectively. Cells exposed to either 7.5%, 3%, or 1% O2 showed gradual increases in volume (compared with 19% O2 normoxic controls) that became significant after 3 or more hours. By ion chromatography methods, we also found that a 30-min exposure to 7.5% O2 caused an increase in bumetanide-sensitive net Na uptake by the cells without increasing cell Na content. CMEC Na content was significantly increased, however, following 3 or more hours of exposure to 7.5% O2. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that during cerebral ischemia, the BBB Na-K-Cl cotransporter is stimulated to mediate transendothelial uptake of Na into the brain and that increased cotransporter activity also contributes to gradual swelling of the cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Brain microvessels
  • Bumetanide
  • Cerebral edema
  • Cerebral ischemia
  • Cotransport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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